24 juli 2006

Towards an international force for Southern Lebanon? (Brigant)

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has stated that Israel would accept an international force operating in Souther Lebanon under NATO command to dismantle Hezbollah and establish control over the region for Lebanese forces. Such a force needs to be assembled and transported to the region which will take some time (ESISC).

Meanwhile the 'world' is calling for a ceasefire, whilst Northern Israel will remain under threat from the Hezbollah and offer the Hezbollah time to regroup and re-arm. Thus a ceasefire is impossible and 'pure suicide' unless the International force arrives and deploys. Suicide, is another term linking the Israeli-Hezbollah Crisis to Iran.

But as ESISC noted: Can European forces deploy and keep up their presence in other theatres of operations (such as Afghanistan and the Balkans). This international force will have to interposition itself between sides and be engaged against the Hezbollah, which could lead to fatalities on the coalition side but also result in terrorist attacks. ESISC did not mention the possible reaction of Iran if the EU states join the fray against the Hezbollah. ESISC also noted that the UN framework (UN peace keeping forces) hasn't really worked in the past.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid meanwhile seems to have declared that one should not expect a European Union deployment as it will be 'difficult' to bring all 25 memberstates on one line. This is where the NATO framework comes into play and shows the immaturity of the ESDP (European Security and Defense Policy).

I believe that there should be an International force under NATO command, unless the Arab League can form an international force and deal with it themselves, although I can understand reluctance to the latter by Israel. Figures run into a 10 000 strong force.

I do not see which European countries could deploy without endangering its other commitments and having sufficient public opinion support. France being the formed colonial power might be useful, together with Germany (forming the basis of the 'EU army'). Turkish forces under NATO command would be interesting. It doesn't seem obvious that Spain or Italy might deploy.
France and Germany probably have their reservations as well, but they could use it to prove their European Army 'idea'. They want to lead the way, let them lead.

The Iranian aspect has been discussed in the past weeks. The G8 summit which should have given a warning to Iran suddenly got tangled into the Israeli-Hezbollah crisis. The guided missile that damaged the INS Spear a Israeli Sa'ar 5 class vessel was a C802 missile manufactured in Iran, designed in China.


At 25/7/06 05:14, Blogger Steel Monkey said...

This is what worries me. Nearly everyone seems to agree that there has to be a peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to keep Hizbollah at more than an arms length from Israel. But who is both willing and able to do the job?

I don't believe that the United States will want to take on this task since it is concerned about Iraq and Afghanistan. NATO has a presence in Afghanistan too.

So, the problem we seem to have is one of too many terrorists and not enough peacekeepers, at least peacekeepers who are competent enough to actually keep the peace. The UN hasn't shown the ability to do the job either.

At 25/7/06 13:56, Blogger David Vandenberghe said...

I'm not quite thinking about Peacekeepers, rather 'peace enforcers' and regular combat troops. Peacekeepers wear blue helmets and only return fire when shot at...I'm talking about shooting first and raids.

The US has too many places to commit troops to. The UK might have spares. But France, Germany and Belgium with their big mouths about a European Army...it is time that they put their money where their mouth is.

France and Germany have the troops and the logistics. I count Italy and Spain out due to OIF backlash. Poland is modernising, I don't see them getting envolved, nor do I see the Nordic countries getting jiggy with it.

Belgium doesn't have the material and budget to move into Lebanon, unless its for baby sitting purposes like in Afghanistan. All that Belgium can offer are some naval vessels and F-16's, UAV's, perhaps some artillery and SHORAD. The Netherlands might be able to commit, they also might have the political will to do so but I'm not sure with this government.


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